Upon being born again, the new life of the God-man has come in (Col 3:4—NC), and it has not come in to supplement ours, but to supplant ours. It has not been given to make up for any deficiency in ours, but to displace it. When we say that Christ’s life is to displace ours, what do we mean? We do not mean that this life of the glorified One is to displace our personality. When I speak of our fallen life, I do not mean the human personality as such. I mean the poison which permeates our personality, the poison of sin (old man or Adamic sinful nature—NC) which has degraded, defiled and distorted our humanity.
This new life of Christ comes in to take place of the sinful life which is operating in our personality, and employing our faculties. The vessel is the same, but the contents are different; the same vessel, the same person, the same faculties, but the contents are different—the very human-divine life of the Lord Jesus is filling, interpenetrating, permeating.
If we do not maintain this scriptural distinction, we are going to come into another bondage, and many a child of God has. They see that it is plainly stated that it must be Christ. “Not I, but Christ,” and so they may quote the second chapter of Galatians, verse twenty, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
In this verse Paul refers to himself seven times, and he does not always mean the same thing. Sometimes he is speaking of himself considered as a created personality, and sometimes as a sinful personality. Therefore he says, “I have been crucified together with Christ.”
Now, what does he mean by that? Does he mean that he, considered as a mere personality, has been crucified with Christ? No, Jesus Christ did not die for us on Calvary, considered purely as personalities, but as sinners—as sinful personalities. I was crucified together with Christ in my capacity as a sinful being. That is what Paul means. “I” considered as a sinful being, have been crucified, and it is no longer I, considered as a sinful being that lives.
When Jesus Christ went down into the grave, He went down as though He were myself considered as a sinful personality. Hence I, in the Divine mind, went down into the grave with Him; and I there, having been crucified, have been brought to an end in the grave, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives. Where does He live? “Christ lives in me.” Now Paul is using “I” in a different sense. “In me,” considered as a created personality, “Christ lives in me, not instead of me. It is not that Christ comes in and lives instead of me. He comes in and lives instead of me as a sinful personality, but not instead of me as a personality.
“I (considered as a sinful personality) have been crucified together with Christ; and it is no longer I (viewed as a sinful personality) lives, but Christ lives in me (as a personality) and the life which I (as a continuing personality) live in the flesh I (as a personality) live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, Who loved me (being what I was, a sinful personality) and gave Himself up for me (a sinner).”
We have to distinguish when the Scripture speaks of the sinful personality (of our nature—NC) and when it speaks of the personality as such (of our character or person-hood—NC). It is the personality, it is the man with all of his faculties, created of God, which is now redeemed by the Blood of Christ. God is not seeking to abolish us as human beings and have Christ replace us. He is seeking to restore us as human personalities so that we may be the vehicle through which Christ will express Himself. Therefore you find that whenever God gets hold of an individual, instead of abolishing the personality, He makes it what He intended it to be. Redemption is the recovery of individuals, not their destruction.
The new life then, has come in not to supplement our own life, but to supplant it, so that it may be Christ’s life that fills the man instead of the fallen Adam life. The new life comes in, not to be allied with the old, but to be arrayed against it; not to help it, but to hinder it; not to improve it, but to ultimately do away with it.
Did the Lord Jesus come to earth in order to affiliate Himself with fallen humanity in gaining a mutual objective? That is what many are teaching—as though this Second Man came in order to link up with the old humanity and work with it to a common end. Nothing of the sort. There is no hint in the record of the life of our Lord Jesus that He was engaged in anything like that. He was found to be diametrically opposed to the old man. He was not here to be a mixer, but a separator. He was not here for peace with the sinful humanity, He was here constantly at variance with it. He was not here to elevate the nature which was opposed to God, but to Cross it out!
How did He do it? The answer is that He did it on the Cross of Calvary. In what sense? In this way: on the Cross He was looked upon by God as though He were fallen humanity, and all that God had against us was poured out on Him. Where did that bring Him? It brought Him into death. Jesus Christ, by His Cross, carried fallen individuals into the grave. In a representative way, then, He brought the old man, which heretofore had been the only one on the field, into death, and now individuals stand forth in resurrection glory. When the full meaning of that is wrought out, there is not going to be one sinful individual on the earth. Christ will be all and in all. That is what is involved.
Just as the Lord Jesus came into this world where this old humanity was and came into it not to ally Himself with it but to destroy it by the Cross, even so He now by the Holy Spirit, in regeneration comes into us where there is this old fallen life not to ally Himself with it, but to destroy it and that by the same means—the Cross. The new life that is in us, then, is in us not to enter into an agreement with the old life, but to draw the sword of Calvary against it, so that when it is carried to its conclusion, there will not be one bit of it left, but Christ will be all in all in the redeemed individual.
There is a great tendency in our hearts to tone the thing down. You say, this is very severe; this is very radical; this is going too far. Because we tone the thing down, we save our old life at some point or other. We do not put it to death by the edge of the sword of the Cross. Our eye pities it. Our hands save it. We enter into an alliance with the crucified old man. We spare him. We will make him serve us and help God’s program along. It may seem for a time as though it was a wise move, but in the end it will be found to be a snare.
Believer, anything that is just from yourself, anything of the fallen life—even the best of it—any of it that lives, permitted to abide and dwell and have a habitation, in the end is going to prove a snare—a thorn in your eye, blotting our your spiritual vision. As sure as truth is truth, it will land you in some spiritual bondage and you will harm your testimony. Calvary never changes. The meaning of Calvary is eternal, and the Cross means judgment upon the flesh (not the physical body but the sinful nature—NC)—into the grave with that which is of ourselves.
So, God calls for a clear-cut position on our part, a full rejection of our old life through the Cross. On the Cross God dealt with our Lord Jesus as though He were us, and when He went into the grave, we went into the grave, and all the sinful content of our being has been taken down into death. We must recognize that it is incumbent upon us to say Amen to that, to accept the significance of it and, in the light of that fact, to turn away utterly from that which is of the old man—renouncing the best as well as the worst.
Whenever you find a child of God who has a reservation somewhere, you will find that child of God by that very reservation forging the chains of his captivity. If there is any reservation on our heart, this is the very means by which we are sooner or later bound hand and foot.
Believer, when we come to recognize these realities and see that it is not a combination of our old life and Christ’s new life, we come to the key of spiritual emancipation. This is not eradication, not a bit of it, but it is a definite rejection of the old man that is within, on the ground of its representative destruction on Calvary. Our Father calls upon us to amend the spiritual significance of the Cross.
That is where the Church of God is held up. The Cross is not only the place to come for deliverance from Divine judgement, but the Cross also means the rejection of sinful humanity. It is not for us merely to accept the benefits of the Cross by way of emancipation from judgment, but it is for us to have the mark of the Cross upon us—to be branded by the Cross inwardly. It is for Him to work it out.
This is the way of spiritual emancipation. There is no other way. Is the power of the holy life in Christ within us drawing the sword of Calvary against our old life to the uttermost? It is not you in your power trying to wield the mighty Cross of Christ. It is Christ in you, an indwelling presence rejecting the flesh on the ground of the Cross. Are you repudiating your old life on the basis of its judicial destruction? This is the only way of spiritual liberty, and it is the sure way.
- Norman Douty
MJS devotional for Jan. 31: http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/